Award Winners "Welcome the Stranger"

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Alumni Committee of Conrad Grebel University College is pleased to announce the selection of Ted (BA Religious Studies ’90) and Darlene Enns Dyck (BA Social Development Studies ’92) as the 2016 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.
For Darlene, Grebel was the context in which the world opened up to her. “I left the comfort of my family, church, friends, and with them, the fairly homogeneous way of seeing the world. Grebel allowed vibrant conversations of faith and life to take place amongst diverse people. It was where I first met someone of B’hai faith, where I was confronted and convicted about the way of Peace, and where I was given the freedom to explore both my personal passions and callings and that of the community of faith."

“Grebel was an amazing place,” shared Ted. “I fondly remember taking an independent study course with Jim Reimer and later a classroom course, which allowed me to go deeper in my theological thinking, but more importantly allowed me to build a relationship with Jim. His passion and down to earth character really impacted me. The Grebel community provided a safe and diverse place to think about what matters and how life should be lived and explored. Many of the friendships and relationships I formred there continue to be important to me today.”

Darlene and Ted are the founding pastors of Seeds Church in Altona, Manitoba. They have provided effective and creative leadership for this innovative and thriving congregation. Their ministry has reached well beyond the church, as they have also given active leadership to a variety of community initiatives. 

Ted and Darlene came to Grebel from Winnipeg. Ted had completed a BTh from Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Darlene came for Social Development Studies at Renison College. Darlene lived in residence (1989-92) and Ted was an active associate (1989-90), also taking a variety of courses at Grebel. They were active in the chapel program and worked with interim Chaplain at the time, Harold Schlegel. 

Harold, who now serves as a pastor in Gretna, Manitoba, nominated Ted and Darlene for this award, noting their Build-A-Village effort as an example of building community around refugee sponsorship. Over the past decade, the group has drawn people together to sponsor 25 families under the couple’s collaborative leadership. The recent sponsorship of 5 Syrian families added 44 people, or one percent to the town’s population. 
Grebel alumnus Curwin Friesen (BA ’93) from Altona, member of Seeds Church, also speaks highly of Darlene and Ted’s leadership and spiritual direction of the congregation.

“I am the daughter of a refugee...this is close to my heart,” reasoned Darlene. “To prepare a place for the uprooted is to be in union with Jesus. We are driven to do this work because we are driven to be like Jesus. As we work in this way, we encounter Jesus, we allow His life to flow in us and through us.”

“Our commitment to working with refugees as a church and community came out of a desire to love God and love our neighbors,” added Ted. In the life of our church, it became evident that our neighbors are not only close by but around the globe. As we became aware of how the world was coming to our doorstep through settling newcomers, we saw this as a place we were being invited to make Jesus real. We are thankful that we have been able to partner with many people and churches in our community to prepare a place for the uprooted. We are also grateful that a new awareness and openness to the newcomer has gripped our nation. Our hope is that others can develop the learning and passion for this work we have discovered over the last 10 years.”

The Distinguished Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who have made a significant and unique contribution to the church, community, nation, or world. In the spirit of Grebel’s mission, Ted and Darlene are serving their church and society as collaborators and community builders as they embody justice and peace in their small town.

On Wednesday, September 21, 7:30, Ted and Darlene will visit Grebel on Peace Day to speak about their experiences with refugee sponsorship and to receive their award.

Learn more about Ted and Darlene's Hometown, Altona, MB welcoming refugees, as told by The Globe and Mail.